Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Bare Minimum

Off the beaten track

I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to plan a life without the support of a cohesive society. We’re falling apart. It’s looking more and more likely that we will not be able to depend on the services and infrastructures that we’ve grown to expect to be there for us.

Let’s start with what’s happening to our health care system.

We have a shortage of nurses and doctors. We had a shortage before the pandemic. Now, it’s critical. We also have a shortage of nursing programs and nursing instructors.

What does that mean?

Well, it means we will not be able to fix this problem within the next decade. It’s going to take probably twenty years to properly address the many interconnected problems. I have a friend who lives in New Mexico. She has not been able to find a doctor who is accepting new patients in over a year. There are none available. Zero.

Now, that’s weird but weird has become the new norm.

Let’s look at teachers. We already had a shortage of qualified teachers. However, now teachers are walking off the job in ever-increasing numbers. My sister works in an elementary school in Florida. Last week a teacher resigned on the spot. That made the fifth teacher to quit since school started. It’s happening everywhere. Teachers are worn out, under attack, underpaid, and totally disillusioned with their chosen profession. However, we’re facing the same problems with teachers that we are with nurses.

Not enough young people are choosing to go into the field and even if they did, there aren’t enough programs to rebuild our dwindling staffs in a reasonable amount of time.

In fact, the opposite of what we need to do is happening. Teacher training programs in universities are being forced to shut down because there simply aren’t enough people willing to invest in teaching as a career.

Everything in a high functioning society is interconnected.

As one service begins to crumble a definite domino effect begins. That’s the beauty of a society, everyone and everything works together to maintain the lifestyle to which we’ve grown to expect. Why? Because we know that our modern lives are totally dependent upon the system to provide us with everything that we need. Everything.

If you think otherwise, you’re delusional.

Of course, quality health care and education were long ago seen as the road to building success as a country. If we could produce the best and brightest, then we would remain on the cutting edge of progress, technological and medical. An educated society is a strong society. It was our middle class children who often grew up to engage in the demanding pursuit of medical degrees, engineering, nursing, teachers, and professors. Not the children of the rich and elite. If we don’t provide and protect the road to these professions, we quickly lose status in the world. Some other country will rise to meet the demands of strenuous qualifications and we’ll need to import their scientists, doctors, nurses, inventors and more.

That is, if we can continue to entice the best and the brightest to not just train here but stay long afterwards.

But it goes deeper than this. I apologize in advance but I’m going to struggle to explain this next piece. I can’t quite put my finger on the problem. The best I can do is provide an allegory. So bear with me.

I’ve always said that the breakdown of society can be easily compared to a dysfunctional family.

The family unit has always been revered. In almost all societies down through the ages, it’s the family that we’re told we should depend upon, and it’s the family we’re told we should protect and defend. In a cold harsh world, when all else fails, the family has your back.

However, we also know that when a family is dysfunctional, then it can be the source of many of our personal problems including mental health and overall lack stability.

Families can be the best of us and the worst of us. When the family turns upon it’s members, the results are deadly. When mom and dad can’t get along, when siblings feel competitive, when children don’t feel safe, or when nobody can agree on anything, the family unit dissolves into a toxic pool of mistrust, dirty secrets, hatred, and sometimes even violence and perversions. The last place we want to be at that time is with the family, but we usually can’t break away. We’re stuck in this ugly quagmire, stunted by the pain and unable to establish meaningful relationships with anyone outside the family as well. And, even though we know we have problems, we can’t fix anything.

NOTHING gets fixed.

All we can do is fight, undermine, and destroy one another. We don’t even know what we’re fighting about half the time. During the moments when we’re even remotely aware, we still can’t get past the blame game to work together to fix things.

That’s how it feels to live in America.

We have a list of things as long as my arm that has needed fixing for decades, but we can’t move past the blame game long enough to actually fix what needs fixing. It’s pathetic. Even as our entire society is unraveling before our very yes, we remain paralyzed, unable to take the first step.

So our nurses and teachers are quitting.

Young people are avoiding these professions. Our roads and bridges aere falling apart. Our univerisities are shutting down programs that we desperately need. Our scientists are under attack. Everyone seems treacherous as we teeter on the edge of sanity.

That’s why I’m compelled to plan a life without a functioning society.

I feel like I’m stuck in a highly toxic, dysfunctional family. I don’t know where this will end. What I do know is that I haven’t experienced anything quite like it before. And, like everyone else, my trust level is at an all-time low. I keep one foot in the door and the other outside just in case. I stock my fridge and plan for power outages. I worry about my money in the bank. I try to fly well below the radar in my neighborhood. Being totally dependent on this dysfunctioning society seems stupid to me, now more than ever.

Where are we headed?

I have no idea. I don’t even have an allegory in order to attempt to answer that question. Maybe our country will see a marriage counselor. Maybe our leaders will try to find some common ground because they finally realize that no matter who wins the game, all they’re going to get is a steaming pile of shit. Because if we keep this up, there won’t be anything left to save.

And, if I haven’t prepared for it in advance, then I’ll be up a creek without a paddle.

Teresa Roberts is a retired educator, author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.



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Teresa Roberts

Teresa Roberts


Teresa is an author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. She’s also a top writer on climate change and the future.